With the first training camp practice set for tomorrow evening, we’ve come to the final position preview. Stay tuned tomorrow evening for a full report off the first day.
WHAT WE KNOW: The Bears needs some serious improvement in this area (except at punter). Special teams coach Jeff Genyk and head coach Jeff Tedford need to take a long look at the placekicking situation during camp. Senior Giorgio Tavecchio has improved his kickoffs and looks to be a strong candidate to continue to handle those duties. But as we know, he’s been inconsistent on his field goals. With a potentially dominant defense and a lot of questions on offense, the Bears could find themselves in a lot of close games this season. That means there could be more than one game that comes down to a last-second field goal. Cal needs to find the guy who can win the game in those situations, whether it be Tavecchio or Vince D’Amato. The Bears are set with Ray Guy Award candidate Bryan Anger at punter, but what about returning punts? Jeremy Ross is gone, and he did a terrific job last season replacing Syd’Quan Thompson. Wide receiver Keenan Allen is a leading candidate to take over, but the coaching staff could be hesitant to increase his workload even more with their plans to involve him in the offense as much as possible. Allen also returned kickoffs last year and could be in line to do it again, but speedster Kaelin Clay is also a top candidate there.
WHAT WE DON’T KNOW: How Genyk is going to improve the coverage teams. Both kickoff coverage and punt coverage got worse from the 2009 season last year, and that’s supposedly what got former special teams coordinator Pete Alamar fired. The Bears have a lot of good young athletes that may be suited to play special teams this year before they start contributing on offense or defense.
IN SUMMATION: With the way the Bears are composed, special teams may be as important as it’s been in recent memory for Cal. Again, the Bears figure to play in a lot of low-scoring, close games, so field position and the kicking game will become paramount. Other than Anger, there are a lot of questions to answer during camp.